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£5m of funding available for rural businesses and communities in Cumbria

Applications for LEADER grants are invited from rural businesses, farmers, foresters, growers, landowners, tourism providers as well as voluntary and charitable organisations.
Capital funding is available to support a wide range of activities including:

  • New farm technologies to improve profitability and sustainability.
  • Micro and small rural businesses, including community and social enterprises, to start up and grow and to provide improvements in productivity and efficiency.
  • Farm diversifications including adding value to farm produce and diversification into non-farming activity.
  • Small scale tourism projects, such as new and existing visitor attractions, accommodation and activities.
  • Enterprising community projects such as multi use space hubs for key services, innovative technologies and products, small scale community infrastructure projects.
  • Forestry investments in new machinery and equipment and to add value to forestry products.
  • Culture and heritage projects including restoration and conservation of buildings, enhancement of cultural activities etc.

Priority will be given to projects that create jobs, help your business to grow, and which benefit the wider rural economy.
The LEADER programme funding is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), and is being funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the European Union (EU) through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
The funding is administered by the Cumbria Fells & Dales, and Solway, Border and Eden Local Action Groups (LAGs) with Cumbria County Council acting as the Accountable Body.
Fells and Dales Local Action Group joint chairs, John Turner of Lonsdale Estates and Steve Ratcliffe of the Lake District National Park Authority, said: “The LEADER programmes continue to support the county’s rural areas in ways which respect both its distinctiveness and diversity, and they help build stronger, more resilient rural communities.”

Solway, Border and Eden Local Action Group joint chairs Brian Armstrong, a local farmer who also represents The Farmer Network and Rob Randell, Cumbria Social Enterprise Partnership Chair, said: “We are looking for innovative ideas and projects which will be a springboard for job creation and economic growth.”

To find out if your project is eligible for funding, how to apply and examples of previously funded projects please visit the LAG websites: and

Notes to Editors:

LEADER is a well-established method of providing European Rural Development Programme (RDP) funding at the local level. LEADER is a (French) acronym which roughly translates as ‘Links between the rural economy and development actions’.
The Solway, Border & Eden (SBE) area covers a large area of northern Cumbria, comprising the predominantly lowland areas of the West Cumbria and Solway coastal plain and parts of the Eden Valley, extending to the more sparsely populated North Pennines uplands in the east. The Cumbria Fells and Dales area (CFD) will correspond to both of the National Parks, plus the remainder of South Lakeland District (including rural actions based in Kendal), Upper Eden, and Penrith and beyond and the Millom peninsula.
During the previous EU programming round (2007-2013), Solway, Border and Eden and Cumbria Fells and Dales Local Action Groups (LAGs) delivered RDPE funding in Cumbria with a total grant budget of £15 million. Grants were awarded to farms, foresters, small businesses and rural communities across the LAG areas. Combined with match-funding the programmes facilitated a total investment of more than £30 million. The investment supported over 350 projects, created 321 jobs and safeguarded 112 jobs. It also delivered 15,000 training days to 12,627 beneficiaries.
Contact details for LEADER Programmes:
Tel: 01900 706000 – Cumbria County Council Economic Programmes Office

For further information

Contact The PR Team on
01539 822222 or